Batchelor Institute » Strong cohort celebrates Graduation Ceremony at Desert Peoples Centre
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Date:September 13, 2022

Strong cohort celebrates Graduation Ceremony at Desert Peoples Centre

Graduates surround the Graduation Day cake as they celebrate their achievements at the Desert Peoples Centre on 8 September 2022.

Graduates surround the Graduation Day cake as they celebrate their achievements at the Desert Peoples Centre on 8 September 2022.

Batchelor Institute students proudly graduated from 17 different courses at the annual Graduation Ceremony held at the Desert Peoples Centre campus in Alice Springs on 8 September 2022.

A total of 52 students were eligible to graduate, with around half of that number travelling to the Desert Peoples Centre to attend the ceremony in person. The students hail from communities across the Northern Territory, as well as from Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania.

Students graduated with qualifications ranging from primary health care practice to conservation and land management, civil construction operations, early childhood education, and many more. Graduates completed courses at various levels, including many students achieving Diplomas.

Margaret Kemarre (MK) Turner OAM, a highly respected East Arrernte Elder, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate during this year’s ceremony for her lifelong commitment to cultural maintenance and languages of Aboriginal people, as an author, educator and advocate.

Dr Turner, who received a standing ovation upon the conferral of the Honorary Doctorate, was also acknowledged for her leadership and knowledge in healing, community-controlled organisations, and intergenerational knowledge sharing.

Wambaya/Gudanji woman Rhonda O’Keefe, who completed a Diploma of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Practice (HLT50213), delivered the student response during the ceremony. Ms O’Keefe, who is an experienced nursing home worker and qualified Aboriginal health practitioner, congratulated all graduating students for their achievements.

“Studying is not always easy, but there is help along the way,” Ms O’Keefe said. “Batchelor has allowed us to be qualified and be leaders in our community.”

Chairperson of the Batchelor Institute Council, Pat Anderson AO, addressed the ceremony after the Tinkerbee Arrernte dancers led the academic and graduand procession into the venue. Children’s Ground Co-Founder and Board Chair, William Tilmouth, then delivered a moving keynote speech to all those assembled.

“It makes me so proud to see people achieving great things through their studies,” Mr Tilmouth said. “No matter what choice you make – whether it’s through employment or further studies, that depends on what you want to do – when you boil it down, education is a tool of survival. No matter where you live, or what your history has been, education ensures that you survive in that world.”

He went on to add: “Every hour you spend in jail is an hour of your life you will never get back. You will have given it away for free. The opposite goes for education. Every hour you spend learning, culturally and in the Western system, is an hour that you are giving to living, to learning and to succeeding – and helping others to succeed through choice, and having agency in their lives and a voice in their lives.”

Batchelor Institute’s CEO Leon Yeatman highlighted the achievements of Dr Turner, Ms O’Keefe, and all students who graduated on the day. “We are very proud of you and look forward to seeing the legacy you create as Batchelor Institute graduates of 2022,” Mr Yeatman said.